On the first of september 2011 I bought myself a 12 foot dinghy.
It was a second hand dinghy nr 859, a rather new one. It was build by mr. Obbe de Groot from Lelystad the Netherlands, An amateur builder in the age of approximately 80 years.
I already had seen several 12 foot dinghy’s sailing at the Sneekermeer in the Netherlands and I was always impressed by the character of the dinghy. The warm materials used, the craftsmanship the builder needs to possess to build such a dinghy, the stories told by those who sail the dinghy and participate in the regatta’s. The way spectators show their appreciation of what they felt by looking at a 12 foot dinghy
On the internet I saw dinghy 859 for sale. The photo that was shown let me see all those elements mentioned before. So I became a sailor again after many years of not sailing.
With respect for the dinghy and her challenging character I sailed in 2011 2 weekends with al lot of wind. Difficult to sail especially down winds. The other sailors where helpful and gave many tips how to sail the dinghy. I survived both weekends and enjoyed it very much. It was interesting to see the great diversity in the results the competitors made. For me an indication that it was about sailing and not buying the fastest dinghy. In my vision that makes the 12 foot dinghy a truly fair and challenging dinghy. A way of competing on equal basis to face the natural elements wind and water. Using tactics and boat handling to become the first at the finish.
My compliments to George Cockshot who designed this dinghy. A dinghy that is 100 years later still a very attractive dinghy to sail. Whether its is in slow winds or in other conditions with 26-30 Kts of wind and a crue member is needed it is fun . The true dinghy is well equipped to challenge these conditions. Solid en sustainable. A dinghy with the name 12 foot dinghy. For every competitive sailor it is clear what kind of a sailing boat that is.
In 2012 I sailed the whole season with more pleasure than I ever had before in sailing. Fair competition and different results. But I heard also that there was a group of sailors, most in Italy, who where looking for an other challenge and sail in a boat that was some kind of a copy of the 12 foot dinghy, but with significant changes in materials used, weight sail and more. I also heard that the way they sail that plastic dinghy is simmular wit f.e. the Finn. Lots of rolling down winds in spite of the regulations that does not allow rolling in that way. In my vision it is a new class. They should be so proud of their own boat design that there should be a new name for that design.
I have seen several classes original in wood designed which changed in to a plastic boat and with a considerable amount of changing possibilities during a regatta, new sail plans and so on. Most of the times the original class was destroyed and the modern version did not become the predicted “superclass” in volume as promised. Why was that. The change of the boat became a race of more changes and more and more. Finally there was for no sailing lover a real profit. Yes for the builders who needed no craftsmanship. There was a market for innovation and they make their profit. Mass production restricted lifecycles and so on. And finally both the original and the modernised version became boats suited for small regattas with only a few competitors.
In a regatta I want to sail against similar dinghy’s. That’s the only way to compete and measure yourself with others. New visions of sailing should go their own way and become a new class. If they cannot become a new class it is in my vision a lack of acknowledgement of its existence. In my opinion there should be no opening for these plastic dinghy’s to become part of the Dutch 12 voetsjollen club. Simply because it is no 12 foot dinghy and a true 12 foot dinghy sailor is proud and in love with the pure original 12 foot dinghy. Competing with only the same dinghy’s. The pure and original dinghy is sustainable. Plastic is not sustainable. My grandchildren (when they arrive) may have the opportunity to sail in regattas in the same dinghy as I sailed in because the dinghy will pass on through my son to his children and so on. It is now rather common because the pure and original 12 foot dinghy has proved in 100 years to fulfil the challenge in sailing for so many sailors of all different levers. Why change and kill the dinghy for an adventure that through time has been proven to be devastating for the continuity of sailing classes.
So I am against the introduction of a plastic dinghy within the Dutch ” 12 voetsjol klasseorganisatie”
I am also against any form of mixture during a regatta with plastic or modern wooden dinghies. When there is a regatta there should be an own regatta(start) for each class. For each class an own result and pricegiving ceremony. For each class an own identity. Any other form is for me a degeneration of the 12 foot dinghy and quality of competition that is to be found during a regatta with equal boats and challenges.
Looking forward to see you with your 12 foot dinghy in perfect sailing condition for both sailor and dinghy enjoying to fight against nature in a pure and natural 12 foot dinghy as it has been for the past 100 years.
Dinghy NED859 Uisce Beatha